Kentucky sophomore Tyler Ulis was given the Bob Cousy Point Guard of the Year Award on Friday night in Los Angeles during ESPN’s College Basketball Awards Show. The honor is presented annually by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
“Well, last year we had so many veteran guys, so many pros on the team I didn’t have to do as much,” Ulis told Jay Williams after winning the award. “This year we had a lot of freshmen coming in and I feel like my role was to lead this team and try to do as best as I can.
“(I started playing better) in the middle of the year,” Ulis said. “I started playing better, started shooting the ball a lot better and our team started clicking. When we started winning games it started to be a lot more fun.”
Ulis ended the season with 246 assists, breaking the single-season school record previously held by John Wall.
Already considered an NCAA consensus first-team All-American, Ulis has declared for the NBA Draft and plans to hire an agent. He prevailed over fellow finalists Kris Dunn (Providence), Yogi Ferrell (Indiana), Monte Morris (Iowa State) and Kay Felder (Oakland) to win the award.
Ulis is the first Wildcat in the 13-year history of the award to win the honor. Previous winners of the Bob Cousy Award include: Delon Wright, Utah (2015); Shabazz Napier, Connecticut (2014); Trey Burke, Michigan (2013); Kendall Marshall, North Carolina (2012); Kemba Walker, Connecticut (2011); Greivis Vasquez, Maryland (2010); Ty Lawson, North Carolina (2009); DJ Augustin, Texas (2008); Acie Law, Texas A&M (2007); Dee Brown, Illinois (2006); Raymond Felton, North Carolina (2005); and Jameer Nelson, St. Joseph’s (2004).
The award is named after legendary point guard Bob Cousy, considered by many as the best playmaker ever. Cousy had an All-America career at The College of the Holy Cross, leading the Crusaders to three NCAA tournaments and the 1947 title. Cousy went on to the NBA and led the Boston Celtics to six championships alongside Hall of Famers Bill Russell and head coach Red Auerbach.
“He’s an outstanding talent,” Cousy told the Herald-Leader about Ulis ahead of the announcement. “There’s always a place in the NBA for an outstanding point guard, and he seems to be, other than the fact he’s 5-9. Point guards are still scarce enough in the NBA.
“Tyler seems to be the full package. … He sees the floor very well. He’s got exceptional range, well beyond the normal college three-point line, and he penetrates effectively, and he’s able to finish and dish. Offensively, there’s not a lot more you have to do.”